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Advances in HE data should be on "fast forward" -- not "pause"

Data and learning analytics are like "gold dust" in higher education, and the sector cannot afford to put advances in this area on pause, argues Graham Cooper, Head of Education at Capita Education Software Solutions.

How universities are using data to boost the student experience

The use of big data to improve the student experience is a rich seam that universities are increasingly mining. In this Good Practice Briefing, HEi-know looks at a variety of approaches that have been taken by eight universities to collect and make use of data to enhance learning, and provide better support and feedback for students.

Plus ça change: old debates over the purpose of HE rumble on

Dave Hall, Registrar and Chief Operating Officer at the University of Leicester, finds the long-running argument over whether higher education's primary purpose is utilitarian or more holistic continues to dominate debate in the media on developments in the sector.

Calls for "misleading" TEF to be scrapped in current form

The Royal Statistical Society has warned that the Teaching Excellence Framework is misleading thousands of students by failing to meet the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value that the public might expect.

UK cities that are best value for graduates revealed in new analysis

New analysis by Prospects reveals which UK cities offer the best value for money for graduates taking their first steps on the career ladder.

News headlines finally reflect the concerns of universities

This week’s news for once truly mirrors the issues focusing minds in HE, finds Rachel Hewitt, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Parents still prefer traditional degrees to apprenticeships, poll finds

Parents are more likely to advise their child to go to university than take a degree-level apprenticeship, with middle-class parents more likely than poorer parents to offer this advice, according to new research.

UK universities lose ground in latest QS world rankings

Many UK universities have fallen further behind international competitors in the latest edition of the QS World University Rankings.

This year’s rankings indicate that the majority of the UK’s higher education institutions have proved unable to avoid further decline after last year’s regressive performance. Seventy six UK institutions are ranked this year, 51 of which have seen a fall in their position. The University of Cambridge has dropped back one place to 5th, while 11 of the 16 ranked Russell Group institutions see downward movements.

However, there is evidence that employers have become increasingly willing to hire graduates from UK universities in the year since the nation voted to leave the European Union. Forty three of the UK’s ranked universities record improved scores for QS’s Employer Reputation metric. This follows January’s QS Best Student Cities ranking, in which QS noted that a number of UK cities were receiving better Employer Activity scores.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology holds the top spot for a record sixth consecutive year. Standford and Harvard universities have also held fast in 2nd and 3rd positions, while California Institute of Technology has replaced Cambridge in 4th place.

QS said the UK’s relative performance is deteriorating for two primary reasons:

  • Falls in relative research performance. Forty five of the UK’s 76 universities receive lower scores for QS’s Citations per Faculty metric, which measures the impact achieved by a university’s research. The University of Cambridge, despite remaining the United Kingdom’s leading ranked research institution, has seen its Citations per Faculty score drop from 93.7 to below 80 in two years;
  • Falls in its standing among both the global and domestic academic communities. Forty six of the UK’s institutions receive lower scores for QS’s Academic Reputation metric, which records over 75,000 responses to QS’s Academic Reputation survey from faculty across the world.

Ben Sowter, Head of Research at QS, said: “Though the temptation may be to attribute the UK’s second year of struggle to Brexit, we would warn against doing so. Much of the data we collect for these tables has been collected over a five-year period, and the first year of post-Brexit internationalisation scores suggests that there has, thus far, been a minimal impact on international student and faculty rates at UK institutions.

"Of greater importance, we believe, is the continued strain on university resources, which appears to be having a deleterious impact on not just research, but also the capacity to deliver world-class teaching. Also of greater significance than Brexit is the simple and unavoidable truth that these rankings are a relative exercise, and the rest of the world is becoming increasingly competitive.”

Commenting on the results, Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said: “The competitiveness of UK universities has been affected by austerity. In particular, tuition fees have been frozen for five years and research funding has not grown as fast as in some other countries. So the latest QS rankings should give policymakers pause for thought. The various political parties have offered very different higher education policies at today’s general election. Whoever wins will need to work hard if UK universities are to regain their previous position.”

 

The expert opinion of 75,015 academics and 40,455 employers contributed to the 2018 edition of the rankings. 12.3m papers and 75.1m citations were analysed from the bibliometric database Scopus/Elsevier, to measure the impact of the research produced by the universities ranked.

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